Posts Tagged ‘expectations’

Mom New-Year Resolutions

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

New Year resolutionsIt’s that time of year. Ready or not here 2017 comes.

Before we go setting ourselves up with unrealistic goals we’ll forget by month’s (week’s?) end, let’s set up something that will create a lifetime of treasures. A few themes I tend to revisit annually include:

I will set aside my smart-whatever. Maybe it’s during dinner, perhaps your phone is there at stop-lights, or after a long day you just want to chill to some Bejeweled (or whatever game is hot these days…). Commit to putting your phone, laptop, or tablet down. Use the time to connect with whoever is present, even if that just means some quiet time alone with you.

I will use kind words. We all have different parenting styles, and even within the “whatever is the trendy style” kind of parent there are many nuances. Maybe you never raise your voice and rarely use the word “no.” Perhaps you’re parenting has gotten a little intense lately. Wherever you are in your parenting style or journey, however assertive or passive, and no matter your discipline perspective, we can all use a little kind in our lives. I mean this not only in how we speak to our children, but also how we speak about them whether they are present or not, and how we speak to our own self or partner or mother about parenting decisions. Let kindness reign supreme in two thousand seventeen.

I will keep perspective. It’s not that those grandmas in the store are wrong when they say “cherish every moment” nor is the mama wrong when she says she struggles to find any joy some days. I bet there is truth to both. Instead of shutting the other one down completely, I will, nod, give a half-smile, and learn about myself or them through the comments they make. Perhaps a little more connection is what we all need, and I have an opportunity to ask a follow up question that can either shut them down or open them up.

I will take care of myself. Maybe it’s eating one less sweet (or one more!) per day or week. Similarly, more water and/or less other liquid drug of choice (caffeine, alcohol, sugar, etc.). Perhaps it’s starting to work out or finding quiet time to relax. Some of us need to focus a little more on our budget. It could be stepping up your yoga pants to real-deal jeans. I’m sure we all could do something along the lines of all the above. Pick something. Put a reason to it. Set reasonable expectations, and find accountability in friends, your partner, or even an online group.

I will do something that is not for specifically for the kids. Inventory your time and interests. What has fallen away since you first had children? What were your passions? Where did your time, money, and effort go? Reinvest yourself or invest yourself in something new.

I will dole out more grace. I know it’s fun sometimes to thrive on snarky. It is one of my mind’s instant reflexes sometimes. I think grace can build more relationships and understanding though. I don’t want to tear down someone or something else to justify myself. I can be me without pulling down on them. Grace and more grace. To myself, to others… grace.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 10 months to age five. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Why Should We Have to “Have it All”

Monday, December 19th, 2016

have it allSocial media did it again. Another mama went and did something that has a lot of people armed and ready with all their judgments. A mom, ten weeks post-partum, videotaped herself working out as she went about folding cloth diaper laundry from the dryer. Diary of a Fit Mommy is known for her videos incorporating workouts into daily routines and inspires a number of other people, mostly women, to do the same.

I want to be very clear. I have nothing but love for this mama. You get yours! I work out most days of the week and have my own strategies for fitting it in. My routine is a work in progress but I think I get the sentiment behind the idea that we all have time and can find said time if we get creative and honest with ourselves and our day. I also wonder if people would have a strong response to my laundry multi-tasking—folding while talking to my hubby about our day. We are all multi-tasking.

But my first thought upon viewing this video was more of a question: Why must everything be so complex? Can we make single-tasking a fad that sticks? Perhaps the response is doing squats while stuffing cloth diapers is not a complex task. That’s true—it appears relatively easy. I just tried it myself and, yes, it’s simple enough. I’m just wondering what’s so wrong with single-tasking?

All day I’m doing five things at a time. I just want to sit and do the laundry with a show on the TV or even just in the still silence of children in bed. In some ways sitting in the quiet or watching TV still isn’t singular in focus. I might be reflecting on the day or catching up with hubby. Still, can’t I just not always be thinking and acting on the idea of “having it all?”

Lots of women all over the world don’t have it all—they don’t even have the time or resources to play around with the idea of having it all. Sometimes I think what many of us want is just a little simplicity. I am okay with a single focus even if it means I don’t have a “perfectly” slim tummy. For my own sanity I need to not always be doing, fitting everything in, and getting the most out of the day. That just feels like unnecessary pressure and anxiety.

Yet again, that’s what I’ll have to come down to, my own sanity and my own experience. We are all battling different demons; we all have different places we’re coming from and ideas of whom and how we want to be. If you’re in the mood to multi-task your way to a perkier tush while preparing diapers for your baby’s fluffy bum I’m happy you’re finding ways to make your goals reality. I’ll be over here folding laundry and little else, except perhaps taking a sip or two of wine.

Lynette is a mom of three children from 8 months to age four. She has cloth diapered all three since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Managing Birth Expectations

Monday, July 25th, 2016

DSCN1032The birth plan … I took a twelve (twelve!!) week class on natural childbirth (and infant care) before the birth of my first son. Part of the class was, after educating everyone on different options (including passing around an epidural needle set to terrify everybody by the sheer size of the thing), crafting the birth plan, using a multi-page checklist as the starter point.

My birth plan was pretty laid back, and mine included no epidural, but still, the head nurse checking me in snickered and told me that I should get an epidural right then at check-in, as there was no guarantee the anesthesiologist could ever get back in time again (assuming that I would inevitably ask for one).

After all of this, guess what? Nothing really went according to plan. And even though I thought I was super laid back about my expectations (you know, the old, “I want a natural birth if possible, but as long as my baby is healthy it’s good”), I was massively disappointed in how my birth story played out. I ended up with an emergency c-section, the only non-natural birth from our class.

Moral of the Story: I think it’s very important to be educated on the birth process and the different options out there, and to know beforehand what you personally are comfortable with. It’s also important to remember that while there are many options out there concerning birth, they will not all necessarily be an option for you. You may want an epidural, but your labor may progress so quickly it’s not possible. You may want a home birth, but likewise your individual circumstances may not allow it.

If you are concerned about your birth plan, hiring a doula is a good way to make sure that your voice is heard in the delivery room and that you are supported the whole way by an educated and experienced third party.

Finally, moms and dads, we need to stop judging the birth plans of everybody else. Using scare tactics against pain relief methods, snickering at patients’ pain relief plans, and bashing each other all on choices made during pregnancy and labor/delivery over the Internet–this helps none of us. No matter the events leading up to the birth, ultimately, that’s a healthy baby is the goal, and everyone of us that has been blessed with a healthy birth should be able to celebrate that, without a cloud of guilt or disappointment over our heads.

Meaghan Howard is a stay-at-home mom to two little boys, both born healthy, despite how their birth plans turned out. 

Managing Expectations Around Gifts

Monday, December 14th, 2015

Managing expectations around giftsAh, the holidays are upon us. There are the classic songs, colorful décor, and tasty treats. Let us not forget the coupon cutting, sale searching, and line waiting. We buy a handful of gifts for our kiddos. Hubby and I discuss a budget and gift ideas, which I try to follow through with before Thanksgiving comes so gifts are not on my mind during the holiday season. We live in a smaller home. I say that not to say we don’t have enough space but simply that we do not crave many toys in our home. We live somewhat simply, by choice.

When I was young, I enjoyed people asking me what I wanted for Christmas. I even flat out made a list and sent it to the man in red, without request. Now I anticipate the inevitable question from a variety of spots (grandmas, aunts, and more!) for my young kiddos. I went through phases. First I felt like I shouldn’t be giving ideas, almost telling people, what to get for my children. It felt selfish. Then I was annoyed that some people felt such need to buy, even when I knew they didn’t have a lot to spend. We’ve settled this last year on what we think is a more realistic, respectful way of balancing other people’s wants for our children and what we hope for them as well.

Keep Perspective

You can’t make other people give gifts the way you want. Everyone understands giving and chooses to do so in different ways. Share how you gift if you’d like, but don’t expect people to suddenly change years of their own beliefs around traditions, giving, and the holidays.

Recognize what you can and can’t control

You can control what you say to your children about gifts and giving. If grandma goes overboard for your children, consider encouraging them to share with others by giving some away or storing some toys away to take out throughout the year. If you receive inexpensive, easily breakable toys with a million small pieces because auntie doesn’t share your love for local, wooden toys, play with them until they break and then throw them away without guilt or donate them to begin with, encouraging a child’s giving heart. If you don’t want grandpa’s extravagant gift to upstage your smaller, hard-earned gift, focus on your giving heart and remind your child that money comes to different people in different ways and amounts. Money does not equal love. Recognize time may teach them this lesson once they grow up and reflect back on childhood, understanding it with an adult’s perspective.

Choose a different centerpiece

Don’t let gifts become the center point. If you stress so much about what others are gifting that it keeps you up at night, figure out what is underneath such a strong attachment to gifting for you. For example, if your concern is keeping up with what other families are providing for their families, remember that love is a far more valuable commodity than a bin full of toys. Perhaps you want children to focus on other aspects of the holiday season or the importance of giving, not money. Know that one day of gifts will not overshadow the other 364 days of the year that you guide them in life.

Lynette shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 2 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

Managing Holiday Expectations

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

Managing Holiday Expectations 1

There was that one Thanksgiving we stayed home, just the two of us. I was 9 months pregnant, so I had a great excuse for not traveling the solid six-hour round-trip drive that year. Several things make that such a warm holiday memory for me. First, it was our last Thanksgiving just the two of us. Second, it was quiet and relaxing and without expectation. Don’t get me wrong. We are those people who are friends with our families. We get along, vacation together, and look forward to seeing each other again in no more than a few weeks. Still, I will not lie about the sweet joy of bucking the system that one holiday.

Great expectations often boil up most clearly (and painfully) at the holidays. There are so many strong feelings, traditions, and schedules to balance. Somehow all those things seem tied to family dynamics growing up twenty years ago. You know, mom always understood younger brother’s unique living style; Dad always defaults to what big sister suggests. The holidays are a great reminder of all the ways we could use a little therapy. The way we’ve found to work through all this muddle is wrapped up in one word: expectations.

Managing Holiday Expectations 2The Negotiables

For us, when we really thought about it, most things turned out to be negotiable. Family and friends who married into the wonderful love of step-families negotiate a little differently than us. As a nuclear family we generally have all days available while some of our siblings have to balance sharing their children on certain days. As a SAHM I don’t have an office holiday party while some family and friends have two to attend. When we are invited to events, we take time to consider how participating will contribute to (and detract from) our holiday season. We don’t expect to have Christmas on a certain numerical day in the month. We also don’t expect to participate in everything to which we receive invitation.

Another example of negotiation involves the age of our children. This is our fourth December with children but our first time having Christmas morning on Christmas morning. We previously opted to celebrate it that Saturday morning of my family’s get-together the week before Christmas. As they get older this expectation may change, but we’ve spent some Christmas days traveling across the country because being with family ranks higher than celebrating Christmas on a particular day of December.

Gift-giving is another point of stress in the holiday season. With some family members we openly discuss this and set a dollar amount we are comfortable spending on each other’s families. We don’t buy for every single family member; one side of the family we always buy for parents while the other side of the family does a single-name-draw exchange that includes the parents. On the chance that we receive gifts unexpectedly from family or friends, we don’t stress about it because giving and receiving gifts are aspects of the holiday season. We see them as an opportunity to accept gifts with grace and without guilt.

The Non-negotiables

Typically we spend part of the holiday season (Thanksgiving to New Year’s) with each family, 1,600 miles apart. For ten years we’ve managed to balance this, though every year looks a little different. It means we don’t take family vacations to fancy locales other times of the year, but saving up to see both families during the holidays is typically non-negotiable. This year, this is not part of our expectations because I am too pregnant to travel cross-country. My doctor (and baby) turned this non-negotiable into a negotiable.

As our children grow, spending Christmas morning at home may turn to into a non-negotiable. Not traveling on Christmas day may become more important to remove stress from the season. For others there may be Christmas Eve pajamas, stockings, a church/synagogue service, or going to a particular family member’s home that is important.

I can’t gloss over the way this relaxed approach to the holidays relies on other people to balance their expectations of us. Sometimes family may or may not entirely understand. Some older family members may want to continue the old traditions even after the younger generations give birth to more. Some family may see every invitation as important, more important than balancing with family gatherings. Even the meaning of family and friend may blur as not every “family” is created with the same make-up. In all of these things, if you know what you are willing to negotiate or not then you can only handle the situation with grace and hope others will understand.

Lynette shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 2 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.